Back to the food this evening. That's enough serious discourse about markets for the time being. I'm on a bit of a South Indian food kick at the moment, having discovered a week or two ago that Morrisons in Hunslet are now stocking fresh curry leaves. Nothing else is really an adequate substitute for the unique, deeply savoury flavour of curry leaves. It's very hard to describe how they taste, they're very savoury and sort of earthy with a slightly bitter back note, and give extraordinary depth to any dish you cook with them. If you haven't used them before they look a bit like mini bay leaves.
Tonight I wanted something a bit lighter than a curry, but with the same tastes. I often cook a simple fish curry which is delicious but very rich, as it involves a bucketload of coconut milk. This recipe is really a starter, but will work as a light main course with a couple of chapattis on the side. The fish is fried until just cooked through, so you get tender, moist flesh with deeply savoury, spicy flavours, served with a sweet, tangy coconut chutney. This recipe is enough for two people.
For the fish fry you will need:
300-400g chunky filleted fish (I used hake, and practiced what I've been preaching by buying it on Leeds market!)
2 spring onions
2 cloves garlic
thumb-sized piece of ginger
10-15 curry leaves
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 small, hot chillies
salt and freshly ground black pepper
flour for dusting the fish
For the coconut chutney you will need:
fresh coconut (about 100g)
1 tsp mustard seeds
7-10 black peppercorns
1 tsp jaggery (palm sugar)
1 tsp chopped onion
What to do:
1) First prepare the chutney. Chop the coconut flesh into very small pieces, and put it into a pestle and mortar with the jaggery, the juice of one lime and the onion. Add about 1 tbsp of water and bash to a pulp. Coconut is quite sturdy stuff so you might get bored with this and resort to a food processor. I did. Process to a very coarse pulp.
2) Heat up some vegetable oil in a frying pan, then add the peppercorns and mustard seeds. Temper them in the pan until they sizzle and pop, but don't let them burn, then tip them straight into the coconut mixture. Finish the chutney off by bashing it up in the mortar, adding another tablespoon or two of water to loosen it up. You want it to be moist, but not runny.
3) Finely chop the garlic, ginger, chillies and spring onions, and roughly tear up the curry leaves.
4) Cut your fish into 1-2 inch chunks, all roughly the same size, then dust it with a light coating of flour and a generous grind of salt and pepper.
5) Get the same frying pan as before back on the heat with some more oil (about 1 tbsp). When it's hot add 1 tsp of mustard seeds.
6) When they start to sizzle add the garlic, ginger, chillies and spring onions and fry for a minute or so.
7) Add the curry leaves and fry for another few seconds.
8) Add the fish, then fry until the fish is just cooked through. This will only take two or three minutes depending on the size of your chunks.
9) Serve immediately with the coconut chutney, and maybe some chapattis.